First case of P1 coronavirus variant identified as Manitoba announces 153 new COVID-19 cases

A third highly contagious coronavirus variant, the P1 strain originally detected in Brazil, has been found in Manitoba.

3 different variants now detected in Manitoba, with B117 — originally detected in the U.K. — most common

Manitoba reported 87 cases of more contagious coronavirus variants on Thursday. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press file photo)

A third highly contagious coronavirus variant, the P1 strain — which is associated with Brazil — has been found in Manitoba.

The case, confirmed through sequencing, showed up in a person from the Interlake-Eastern health region, a provincial news release says on Thursday. The province's variant dashboard system says the case is linked to travel.

There are now three of the more contagious variants confirmed in Manitoba, including B117, originally found in the U.K., and B1351, which was identified in South Africa.

There were 87 more variant cases reported in Manitoba Thursday, bringing the total to 647.

The B117 is the predominant variant in Manitoba, but P1 — which was first discovered in Japan in four travellers who had returned from Brazil, and so is often associated with Brazil — is surging in B.C., and now spreading in Alberta and Ontario.

Those variants are mutations of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and are more easily spread. Early research out of Brazil suggests P1 is 2½ times more transmissible than the original COVID-19 strain.

A rise in variants has added to concerns in Manitoba as the province recently entered its third wave of the pandemic.

Earlier this week, Manitoba's chief provincial health officer urged the public to cut down on close contacts, avoid gatherings and wear masks when around other people — including when outside — because variants appear to spread more easily inside and outdoors. He hinted more restrictions would return soon, as test positivity rates and cases rise. 

The number of active variant cases rose to 288 from 225 on Wednesday. Two people have died due to COVID-19 variant infections.

There are also now four variant cases confirmed in the north — three of them B117 and one not yet confirmed — up from one two days ago.

Woman in 30s dies

Manitoba also announced 153 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death: a woman in her 30s from the Interlake-Eastern health region.

The regional breakdown is 73 cases in Winnipeg, 57 in the Northern Health Region, 10 in Interlake-Eastern, seven in Prairie Mountain Health and six in the Southern Health region.

Overall, there are 1,528 active COVID-19 cases provincewide.

The five-day provincial test positivity rate remained at 5.3 per cent. The rate was 5.1 per cent in Winnipeg.

Another outbreak has been declared at Parkview Place Long Term Care Home. Earlier this year, its licence came under review over staffing level concerns and infection control protocols, following one of the deadliest Manitoba care home outbreaks. As of January, 29 residents had died due to COVID-19.

The number of people in Manitoba hospitals due to the illness dipped slightly from 142 to 137 on Thursday, with 35 of those people in intensive care. 

On Wednesday, officials with Manitoba's vaccine task force said there are proportionally fewer older people in hospital with the virus, and they attributed that to targeted vaccination efforts in those cohorts.

So far, 22.3 per cent of Manitoba adults have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, up from 21.5 per cent on Wednesday.

There have been 955 Manitoba deaths linked to COVID-19.


  • An earlier version of this story, based on information from the province's variant dashboard system, said the P1 case is linked to a close contact. In fact, the province later clarified it is travel related.
    Apr 15, 2021 6:28 PM CT


Bryce Hoye


Bryce Hoye is a multi-platform journalist covering news, science, justice, health, 2SLGBTQ issues and other community stories. He has a background in wildlife biology and occasionally works for CBC's Quirks & Quarks and Front Burner. He is also Prairie rep for outCBC. He has won a national Radio Television Digital News Association award for a 2017 feature on the history of the fur trade, and a 2023 Prairie region award for an audio documentary about a Chinese-Canadian father passing down his love for hockey to the next generation of Asian Canadians.